Saturday 07 October 2017, 19:26

Favourites scrape opening wins, as Niger make history

  • First matchday in Groups C and D** **

  • Brazil and Iran top their groups

  • World Cup debutants Niger record surprise win

THE DAY REPLAYED – Several footballing heavyweights found their task tougher than expected, as Groups C and D got underway at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. Brazil edged the headline match between the South American and European champions, while Korea DPR were beaten by FIFA competition newcomers Niger.

In Group C, Germany were forced to wait until the 89th minute for a winning goal, while Iran needed a magnificent long-range strike to breach Guinea’s defence.

The games Group C Germany 2-1 Costa Rica Iran 3-1 Guinea

Group D Brazil 2-1 Spain Korea DPR 0-1 Niger

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What we learned History made in India. At the U-17 World Cup, women are officiating at a FIFA men’s tournament for the first time. "We believe that female referees should now be called into action at FIFA men’s tournaments,” explained Massimo Busacca, Head of the FIFA Refereeing Department. “They have been training with their colleagues for the past year and are now ready to work alongside them at a tournament.” Female referees worked in India as fourth officials on both of the first two matchdays.

U-17 World Cup debutants Niger spring a surprise. Three teams are making their FIFA tournament debut in India. After the hosts’ defeat on the opening day, it was Niger’s turn to test their mettle against the world’s best sides – and the Africans certainly rose to the challenge, recording 13 shots on goal to Korea DPR’s three by half-time before deservedly securing their country’s first-ever World Cup win.

Just like home. Brazil must have felt quite comfortable during their opening game against Spain at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi, where they were greeted by the sight of stands packed with yellow-shirted fans. Local side Kerala Blasters play their home matches in yellow shirts, prompting their supporters to wear their colours with pride, cheer on "their" players and generally provide impressive proof of football’s popularity in India.

Bringing fresh legs off the bench. Amid high temperatures and humidity, coaches have been taking full advantage of the three substitutes permitted in each match. Only New Zealand and Korea DPR have chosen to make fewer than three changes during the eight games played so far.

The stat of the day 59 – Fans watching the two evening encounters between Korea DPR and Niger and Iran versus Guinea had to wait almost an hour for a goal before two were scored almost simultaneously. Niger’s Salim Abdourahmane and Iran striker Allahyar Sayyad both scored in the 59th minute of their respective matches to set their teams on the road to victory.

The quote "The lads usually always make the most of their opportunities. We’re a strong attacking team that are always keen to play on the front foot. I don’t know why we weren’t able to capitalise on the numerous chances we had today. Perhaps, we’re still getting used to India." Germany coach Christian Wuck